Drinking and driving is a serious problem affecting all Americans. Many people have been personally involved in a collision where one of the drivers was intoxicated. Too often, the victims of those accidents and their family members feel they have no recourse; however, the Illinois Dram Shop Act may provide an alternative to traditional parties available for recovery.
Our Illinois car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC are here to help. We will assess your situation and help you navigate the legal issues involved. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 618-277-3644.
What is the Illinois Dram Shop Act?
In many states, there is a potential to recover compensation from unexpected parties. Most people fail to think of the multitude of people and companies that may be responsible for their losses. The Illinois Dram Shop Act addresses one such situation.
A “dram shop” is a bar, tavern, restaurant, liquor store, or other commercial establishment that serves or sells alcohol. If a business sells or serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor, who subsequently causes injury or death to a third party, that business may be liable for damages caused. The Illinois Dram Shop Act serves as an added protection in those cases where bartenders or waitresses continued service of alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated, or to a minor, and that individual then caused a collision which resulted in bodily harm.
The basic elements to a Dram Shop cause of action are that:
- A business or vendor is engaged in the sale or distribution of alcohol;
- That business or vendor sold, distributed, or provided alcohol to an obviously intoxicated or inebriated person, or a minor; and
- The consumption of that alcohol was a proximate (legal and factual) cause of the resulting injury to a person(s) and/or their property.
Proving that someone other than a drunk driver is also responsible for your losses can be difficult. Our personal injury attorneys at The Cates Law Firm, LLC are knowledgeable about the Illinois Dram Shop Act and related laws. Contact us today to find out if you may have a claim against a third party for your injuries.
Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident
Compensation can be difficult to obtain in a drunk driving accident. If the drunk driver already had a suspended license due to a prior DUI/DWI, they likely do not have car insurance, or the insurance company will refuse to cover the incident because the driver was drunk. In such a situation, it is important to get help from our car accident lawyers. We will help you seek compensation from all potentially responsible parties.
The criminal justice system will not help you pay the expenses associated with long hospital stays, rehabilitation, or in extreme cases, funeral expenses. Additionally, your own car insurance policy, which usually contains an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy to protect against people without adequate coverage may not be able to cover all of the costs associated with the injury. You may have to look elsewhere to recover compensation for your losses. Our Illinois personal injury lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC can help you determine if a car accident claim under the Illinois Dram Shop Act would benefit you.
You may be able to recover for the following losses:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life or loss of a normal life
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wage loss
Limitations of the Illinois Dram Shop Act
The Illinois Dram Shop Act does have limitations. The act only applies to licensed liquor establishments that sell alcohol to already intoxicated people who cause injuries or death as a direct result of their intoxication.
The act requires that injuries sustained have been peripherally caused by the intoxicated person. If you cannot show with facts that the injuries were caused by the drunk driver, you may not be able to recover. However, it is typically enough to show that the sale or distribution of the alcohol to the intoxicated individual or minor caused, or at least contributed to the cause, of the injuries. Because evidence fades quickly, it is important to begin an investigation as soon as possible.
Social hosts are not generally liable for injuries that their guests cause after becoming intoxicated. If a guest attends a party and becomes excessively intoxicated and then drives away, causing an accident, the person who hosted the party is not typically liable for injuries caused by that person.
A final important consideration is that there may be a limit on the amount of compensation you may receive. In some cases, you can receive money only if there is a physical injury. There may also be a limit on the amount of money that can be recovered from the dram shop, regardless of how severe the injury is. An attorney will be able to assist you in answering these questions.
Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Provide Dedicated Representation
The Illinois Dram Shop Act protects those who have been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of others. However, there are limitations. The law can be complex. Our experienced attorneys understand how drunk driving laws operate, and they will use that knowledge to seek the maximum compensation available in your case.
If you, a friend or loved one has been severely injured or killed in a collision with a drunk driver, we may be able to help. Please give us a call today at 618-277-3644 or use the contact form online and let us know how we can help you.
Providing experienced representation throughout Southern Illinois, including the communities of Belleville, Carbondale, Chester, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, St. Louis, Waterloo and Madison County, Monroe County and Randolph County.